International encouragement

Education abroad strives to encourage students at UND to study overseas


The Dakota Student/Keisuke Yoshi

Students file into the Study Abroad Fair in the Memorial Union Loading Dock.

Matt Eidson, News Editor

Years ago, during a semester abroad in Chile, South America, Whitney Maine found herself on the metro transit, exploring her surroundings. After a few hours of soaking up the sights, she came to sudden realization — she had no idea where she was going.

Remaining calm, Maine thought of her host family.

“My host family was wonderful,” Maine said. “My host mom was actually an elementary teacher, so she was very helpful with the language.”

Remaining cool during a stressful situation, in a country she wasn’t from with a language she hadn’t mastered, Maine asked the people around her for help. The experience stuck with her, shaping her into a person who understands the value of challenging your comfort zone.

Today, Maine is an Education Abroad Advisor at the International Center. As a person who helps students make their way overseas everyday, Maine loves what she does.

“Traveling abroad pushes you,” Maine said. “Whether it’s just challenging your world views or how you connect with other people, or how you navigate situations you’re uncomfortable in. It’s just such an amazing life changing experience.”


Come one, come all

An Education Abroad Fair will be held Wednesday, Jan. 18 in the Memorial Union Ballroom. Hosted by the education abroad advisors from the International Center, which is located in the Memorial Union, Maine and Emily Dougherty, both education abroad advisors, are working around the clock to ensure the fair assists students with every concern they might have.

Along with inviting the University of North Dakota’s international partner institutions, the advisors have also invited other “providers,” which can loosely be described as study abroad companies who have networks set up with programs around the world that UND doesn’t have direct exchange programs with.

“It really opens up the world to our students,” Maine said.

With over 40 countries in attendance, including Norway, Australia and the United Kingdom, a representative or a student who has studied in a particular country will be at the booth ready to answer any questions.

But instead of just answering the typical questions — “How do you find housing?” or “How do you sign up for classes?” — the students and representatives are there to share their experiences.

“We find that’s most helpful,” Maine said. “That peer to peer interaction, students talking to each other. Just getting excited about it and being able to talk to people who have been there and done it.”


Olympic navigation

Emily Dougherty is no stranger to the benefits of studying abroad. While she was studying in the Netherlands years ago, she realized thelong track speed skating world championships were taking place a couple hours from her location. Having just arrived to the country, Dougherty didn’t know many people and couldn’t find anyone to go with her.

Determined to make it to the competition, Dougherty decided to take matters into her own hands.

“I thought, ‘well, I got myself to the Netherlands, so I can get myself to this competition,’” Dougherty said.

Finding her way to the train station, Dougherty navigated her way to the event by herself. Attending the competition in a foreign country has become one of her fondest memories. Her experience overseas served as motivation to become an education abroad advisor.

“I chose this field because I love that feeling of accomplishment; that I’ve made it, I’ve opened my mind and I’m aware of other things going on,” Dougherty said. “My favorite part so far has been talking to students when they return.”


International insight

The two advisors have also invited their partners from around campus, to include financial wellness, financial aid and career services. The advisors’ goal is to ensure that any question or concern a student might have will be answered.

Maine and Dougherty also want to ensure the students that they will also be wandering around — nametags and all — to address any concerns a student might have.

Pointing out that far too few students study abroad, Maine and Dougherty hope to foster interest in studying abroad during the Study Abroad Fair. Ready to answer questions, address concerns and share some stories, the advisors are eager for the event to start.

“Everybody deserves to have an international experience of some sort,” Maine said. “That’s why I do what I do.”

Matt Eidson is the News Editor for The Dakota Student. He can be reached at [email protected]